Today we’ve lined up a Q&A with the blubolt design team: Matt Richards (Head of Design) and Harry Parkin (designer). Known for their beautiful and high-converting work, the duo have kindly shared their top five design and UX insights and advice with us. Let’s get started!

1. When starting a new website project, how can brands prepare for a creative discovery session with their Shopify Plus agency?

We’d recommend that brands take a three-prong approach to prepare for creative discovery sessions:

Firstly, consider the overall priorities for the project.

  • Understand your business objectives and project goals. Make sure you’ve got an internal agreement on both of these points on this before embarking on a website project as it will set a clear direction for your eCommerce agency team.

  • Understand who your target audience is and their needs. In order to deliver a new website tailored to your customers, you need to understand their thought process, assumptions, and existing loves and pain points with your website. Build a typical customer profile and identify how you could add more value to their experience. We can also help you do this!

Secondly, review your current website.

  • Create a love/hate list. Run through your website by page type and make notes on what you like and dislike about each.

  • Conduct a content audit and usability review. At blubolt, we familiarise ourselves with a client’s site content and existing UX and functionality but you can also think about this in preparation for creative discovery. We also want to understand what’s important from your point of view, and to your customers.

  • Understand existing website performance. Ensure Google Analytics is set up and collecting all your website data correctly. Consider adding Hotjar to your site, this observes users navigating your site, and helps us understand your existing site performance. It can easily highlight touchpoints, pain points, and popular features. We’re happy to help you get Hotjar set up too!

Thirdly, consider things you’d love to do/try/test with your new website.

  • Wish list. Invite your wider team to submit ideas on potential features and functionality to test.

  • Competitor and inspiration lists. We ask our clients to provide a list of direct and indirect competitors as well as websites that they find inspiring in general. We can then complete competitor analysis to gain a better understanding of best practices within your industry and your vision for your new website.

2. What is your favourite Shopify Plus project and why?

Definitely our recent Shopify Plus design and build for fashion brand Alexa Chung! The design is clean, classic and lifestyle led with a strong emphasis on improving site speed, cross collection flows, optimised user journeys, and conversion.

A team favourite: the new Shopify Plus website for Alexa Chung.

We achieved this in just over two months thanks to a combination of:

  • a fantastic client-agency working relationship,

  • a thorough creative discovery process which delivered clear, actionable insights, and

  • beautiful brand-led design.

We are delighted with the outcome and, even better, so is the client! Read more on that and the build process here. Take a look at the Alexa Chung website itself here.


3. What design and UX or eCommerce trends have you seen develop in 2020? And, do you have any 2021 predictions?

As we’re all aware, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to eCommerce in terms of brands launching online (or upgrading their website offering) and consumers shopping behaviour.

2020 trends.

  • The return of minimalism. 2020 was a stressful year and saw brands reducing visual clutter and excessive information to ensure that the customer journey was clear and simple.

  • Abstract imagery, with graphics and text. We saw the merge of photography and 3D using soft shadows, and floating elements to create visually pleasing and impactful websites to capture the attention of users, and draw attention to key actions.

  • Better product photography. With consumers not able to see products in person, brands implemented more 3D intractable models and VR. For example, allowing customers to see products in more detail and even place products within their home using their mobile devices.

  • Delivery and returns transparency. We saw brands offering more detailed information on their delivery and returns policies to capture the attention of shoppers and gain more trust. Overall, expectations have risen with more consumers expecting free returns, for example.

  • Building a narrative and driving engagement. An increase in customers wanting to connect with a brand, it’s story and values need to resonate with them. As a result, more merchants focused on stronger storytelling around their products and brand through social proof, user-generated content, and loyalty schemes.

2021 predictions.

2021 predictions: what's in store?

  • More behavioural research. With lockdowns and tier systems, shopping habits and behaviours continue to evolve. Retailers need to understand consumers' needs, pain points and goals as a result of the changes so they can add more value to their customer journeys and outperform competitors.

  • Greater accessibility. We expect to see eCommerce sites become more accessible and inclusive, with a rise in accessible colours and voice user interfaces.

  • Voice search. With a strong uptake in smart speakers (Amazon’s Alexa) and digital assistants (Apple’s Siri), we see voice search continuing to grow in dominance. This technology makes it so easy to browse and purchase products that websites will have to adapt to create more amazing experiences.

  • Digital customer support. We will continue to see a large push forward on creating optimal experiences for customer support. This will include the use of AI chatbots and other technologies to help increase sales.

  • Social commerce. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are allowing merchants to create their own storefronts and sell inventory using specialised checkouts. This is an interesting trend which we’ll be tracking closely in 2021.

4. What do clients say is different about the design and UX process when working with blubolt?

They often comment that our design and UX process differs because of:

Our passion for great design and UX while remaining approachable and collaborative to work with.

This comes from us wanting our client’s websites to reflect who they feel they are as a brand; we’re not interested in a one-size-fits-all design and UX experience.

Our attitude that no website is ever finished.

We work with our clients iteratively - continually testing, learning and improving their websites. We craft journeys and features that cater to the evolving requirements of the user and our client’s overall business goals. Then we also work collaboratively with our developers to ensure our designs are achievable in terms of speed and optimisation.

Our data-led design ethos.

We empathise with the user when designing, focusing on data to lead the process rather than the other way around. Our design team is also General Assembly qualified, giving us a deeper understanding of the user-experience process and the importance of user-focused techniques like user-research, usability testing, and iterative design.

We believe the devil's in the detail... and data!

5. Compared to other platforms you’ve worked with, how does Shopify Plus measure up in terms of design and UX?

Design freedom.

Shopify Plus offers extensive design freedom combined with efficient development.This means we can design and build your site in half the time of comparative platforms.

Flexibility and administrative control.

The administrative controls that we can set for our clients really maximise their in-house flexibility and control. It gives them the ability to curate their own homepages using design-led sections that we’ve created for them in Shopify Plus. This has been a huge win for our clients this year. In a pandemic, being able to quickly change your website at short notice in-house with minimal staff makes life so much easier.

Diverse third-party integrations.

Shopify Plus has fantastic third party integrations that offer the best practice in filters, loyalty, search, and wishlists to name but a few. We also find these integrations assist clients in reducing project costs. An app we particularly love is Shogun. It offers both us and our clients bespoke page designs with simple drag and drop functionality. As a result, our clients can create lifestyle and visually-led pages in-house which greatly assists them in conveying their brand story and values.

Design In Action.

So you’ve now got five key design and UX insights from our experts Matt and Harry to get you off to a flying start in 2021! Need more assistance or have your own Shopify Plus project to discuss? Do get in touch with blubolt here. We look forward to chatting with you!

Have your own Shopify Plus project? Sign-up for our eCommerce Masterclass.

Ready to leapfrog the competition with a next-generation eCommerce website?

Join our free Masterclass to learn how you can deliver a high-performing, head-turning website on Shopify Plus. Available to UK retailers, this Zoom event isn’t recorded so you can ask as many questions as you like, confidentially. Then enjoy lunch on us with a complimentary Deliveroo voucher! Register today.

In the meantime, browse our client work for inspiration. Or, if you need assistance with a Shopify Plus query of your own, get in touch with us. We’d love to help!